Elementary Science

Misconceptions in Science

Thu Feb 08, 2018 9:42 PM

Lots of classrooms are student based, which I think is awesome! I love a classroom that allows students to gather information, coming to their own conclusions.  However, I know that there are times when students have misconceptions about science or come to an alternate, inaccurate conclusion.  What are some strategies to help correct those students' thinking without just giving them the answer?

Rachel Wilson
Rachel Wilson
180 Activity Points

Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:18 PM

Hi Rachel,

Much has been researched and written about students' misconceptions on science. I did a quick search in the Learning Center for journal articles from Science and Children and found the following that may of interest to you.


I am interested in reading other people's thoughts and ideas on this topic.
Take care,

Flavio Mendez
Flavio Mendez
34087 Activity Points

Yesterday, 10:03 PM

I honestly have never given much thought to the misconceptions in science until I enrolled into my science methods class, my senior year of college. Misconceptions in science can be the sole reason students become disconnected and disinterested in science overall. As a future educator, I want to make sure I correct my students' thinking and misconceptions in the most effective way possible.
One strategy that my science teacher taught us was to allow students to express their understanding of the misconception before you even tell them it is a misconception. Let them write it out, discuss it in a group, and/or complete a pre-assessment.
After they have completed that, give them context/an activity that teaches the truth about what they have been wrong about.
Lastly, in full group lesson, encourage conversation about what they read or discovered and allow them to reach their own new understanding about whatever the misconception is. This should be a guided process that doesn't necessarily give them the answer or directly answer their questions but be more inquiry based.

(This helped most when my teacher completely shocked 98% of the class by telling us a hypothesis is NOT an "educated guess.")

Asmara Mengisteab
Asmara Mengisteab
30 Activity Points

Today, 7:00 AM

> This helped most when my teacher completely shocked 98% of the class by telling us a hypothesis is NOT an "educated guess."

Asmara's teacher was correct, and in case anyone would like to understand hypotheses better, here's a one-pager about them.


A hypothesis is not a guess at the outcome of an experiment. A hypothesis is a possible (or suggested) explanation for some observed phenomenon. Perhaps the most important part of the article is the part about why it's a bad idea to have students guess at the outcome of their science fair project (and mistakenly call that a 'hypothesis').


Matt Bobrowsky
Matt Bobrowsky
3855 Activity Points

Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:50 AM

Hi Rachel and Flavio,
Yes, I have all those articles in my library, Flavio. They are excellent resources. I teach pre-service teachers, so this is a very important topic that we cover. I always bring their attentions to the SciPacks. Since they are required to complete a SciPack, I show them how their SciPacks have a section called the pedagogical implications. The teachers find that section very helpful when they are trying to find out what misunderstandings their students might have about a particular concept.
I, too, would be interested in knowing what resources others have found on this topic.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
79588 Activity Points

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